Health Education Framework Information
On May 8, 2019, the State Board of Education approved a new framework for health education, including recommendations for teaching sex education that aligns with the California Healthy Youth Act, the state’s comprehensive sex ed law.
In an effort to clarify misinformation or misconceptions, we are providing answers to the most common questions fielded to date.
What is the California Healthy Youth Act?
The California Healthy Youth Act is a state law that says districts must ensure that students in grades seven through 12 receive instruction covering human growth and development, including comprehensive sexual health education as well as HIV prevention education. Each student must receive this instruction at least once in middle school and at least once in high school.
The law spells out five primary goals:
1. To provide pupils with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect their sexual and reproductive health from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and from unintended pregnancy;
2. To provide pupils with the knowledge and skills they need to develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender, sexual orientation, relationships, marriage and family;
3. To promote understanding of sexuality as a normal part of human development;
4. To ensure pupils receive integrated, comprehensive, accurate and unbiased sexual health and HIV prevention instruction and provide educators with clear tools and guidance to accomplish that end;
5. To provide pupils with the knowledge and skills necessary to have healthy, positive and safe relationships and behaviors.
What’s the difference between state law, the new framework, and our curriculum?
State Law: Education Code is the law of what must be taught in public schools in California. Specifically, the California Healthy Youth Act (which became law in 2016) requires schools to provide students with comprehensive sexual health education, including HIV and STD prevention education at least once in middle school and once in high school.
The Framework: This is a guidance document that districts may use, but are not required to use, when developing health education programs for students.
Curriculum: This is what our schools will actually teach. Dry Creek's curriculum is not changing for the next school year, and any recommended changes will not be proposed until after an extensive vetting process.
The California Department of Education has created a helpful guide to understanding the differences between the California Healthy Youth Act and the new framework. Click here to view it.
Has Dry Creek adopted new health education curriculum?
Dry Creek does not plan on changing or adopting new instructional materials for Health Education. We do not formally teach Health Education in grades TK-4. Our current instructional material for 5th grade is Always Changing and Growing Up by Proctor & Gamble. Our current instructional material for 8th grade is Positive Prevention Plus. Both sets of instructional materials are available for preview on the links provided above and via our District website. A hard copy of the Positive Prevention Plus is available for preview at each middle school. Please contact the school office if you wish to schedule an appointment for viewing.
What is currently taught in Health Education, and how can I see the materials?
The District’s Health Education program includes Family Life puberty education once in fifth grade, and comprehensive sexual health education and HIV/AIDS prevention education once in eighth grade. These programs are taught by District personnel.
The District is required at the beginning of each school year, or at the time of enrollment for a new student, to inform each parent about instruction in comprehensive sexual health education and HIV/AIDS prevention education planned for the coming year. Written and audiovisual materials are available for inspection at our school sites. A parent or guardian of a pupil may request in writing that his or her child be excused from all or part of the comprehensive sexual health education, HIV/AIDS prevention instruction, and any assessments related to that education.
Our curriculum for middle school (8th grade) is called Positive Prevention Plus and can be previewed at the following link: Positive Prevention Plus parent preview. If you would like more specific information please reach out to your school site.
Our curriculum for elementary school (5th grade) is called Always Changing and Growing Up and can be previewed at the following link: Always Changing and Growing Up parent preview. If you have additional questions, please reach out to your school site.
Can parents opt-out of sex education lessons?
Yes. The law makes it clear that parents can opt their children out of comprehensive sex education. According to the language in AB 329, “The Legislature recognizes that while parents and guardians overwhelmingly support medically accurate, comprehensive sex education, parents and guardians have the ultimate responsibility for imparting values regarding human sexuality to their children.”
Can parents opt-out of instruction or materials that discuss gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation?
As mentioned above, parents or guardians can excuse their children from lessons about comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education, as well as research on student health behaviors and risks.
However, as stated in Education Code 51932(b), the opt-out provision of the California Healthy Youth Act does not apply to instruction or materials outside the context of sex education, including those that may reference gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, discrimination, bullying, relationships or family. For example, the opt-out rule associated with sex education would not apply to a history or social studies lesson on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.
HOW DO I HAVE A SAY IN WHAT IS TAUGHT IN HEALTH EDUCATION?
Until final decisions have been made at the state level regarding Health Education curriculum and instructional materials, please contact the California Department of Education with your comments and concerns.